ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: SUCCESS AND CHALLENGES IN THE GAMBIA.
The 1997 Constitution of The Gambia recognizes the fundamental rights of women as equal citizens of the country. The Constitution guarantees various rights to women, including political, economic, and social rights. In this article, we will discuss the rights of Gambian women under the 1997 Constitution.
Equality before the law: The Constitution guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. This means that women have the same legal status and protections as men and cannot be discriminated against based on their gender.
Right to education: The Constitution recognizes the right to education for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that girls have the same access to education as boys.
Right to work: The Constitution recognizes the right to work for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women can work in any profession and receive equal pay for equal work.
Right to property: The Constitution guarantees the right to own and inherit property for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women can own and inherit property just like men.
Right to healthcare: The Constitution recognizes the right to healthcare for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women have access to quality healthcare services.
Right to participate in politics: The Constitution guarantees the right to participate in politics for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women can run for office and vote in elections.
Right to freedom of speech: The Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women can express their opinions without fear of reprisal.
Right to a fair trial: The Constitution guarantees the right to a fair trial for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women receive a fair trial and are not subject to discrimination in the justice system.
Protection from harmful traditional practices: The Constitution prohibits harmful traditional practices that are detrimental to the health and well-being of women, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages etc.
Right to reproductive health: The Constitution recognizes the right to reproductive health for all Gambians, including women. This ensures that women have access to reproductive healthcare services, including family planning and maternal health services.
Despite these provisions, women in The Gambia still face significant challenges. Women are often underrepresented in political and economic decision-making, and gender-based violence remains a serious problem.
As I mentioned earlier, Gambian women face various challenges, including limited access to education, gender-based violence, lack of economic opportunities, political underrepresentation, and health issues amongst many others.
Here are some of the remedies available in the laws of The Gambia to address these issues:
Education: The Education Act of 2001 prohibits discrimination based on gender in access to education. The government has also implemented policies to promote girls’ education, such as the Girls’ Education Policy of 2010, which aims to reduce gender disparities in education.
Gender-based violence: The Domestic Violence Act of 2013 criminalizes domestic violence, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and provides for protection orders for victims. The Children’s Act of 2005 also criminalizes the practice of FGM.
Economic opportunities: The Labor Act of 2007 prohibits discrimination in employment on the grounds of sex and provides for equal pay for equal work. The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy of 2015 promotes the development of women-owned businesses and provides for access to credit and training.
Political representation: The Constitution of The Gambia provides for equal political rights for men and women. The Women’s Act of 2010 also provides for affirmative action measures to increase women’s representation in politics and decision-making positions.
Health issues: The National Reproductive and Child Health Policy of 2010 aims to improve maternal and child health outcomes. The government has also implemented policies to improve access to healthcare, such as the National Health Insurance Scheme.
These legislations and policies have however, gone a long way in protecting the rights of women’s rights in The Gambia, there are still challenges in their implementation and enforcement. Civil society organizations and the government need to work together to ensure that these laws are effectively enforced, and that women’s rights are well protected and promoted.
I must say that despite these challenges, the Director General of the law school is a woman and a force to reckon with and about 80% of my lecturers in the law school are not just women, but Distinguished Justices of the High Court and Court of Appeal as well as Senior Legal Practitioners in The Gambia. I cannot forget my amazing mother in the Gambia who also is the CEO of one the biggest Financial Institutions in the Gambia and I admire her so much.
These are women who are changing the Status-quo in the Gambia and I could not be more pleased that I chose The Gambia for my Bar Professional course.
On this International Women’s Day, I want to express my admiration and respect for the strength, resilience, and determination that you embody. You are the backbone of your families, communities, and nation, and your contributions are essential to building a better future for all.
To these wonderful women, I say Abaraka, Jaa-jef, Jarama, Nuwaare, Bu roki bu Jakeh, well done to you all.
I encourage you to continue to pursue your dreams, to believe in your abilities, and to support one another in your endeavours. Remember that you are capable of achieving great things, and that your voice and your perspective are invaluable.
The world needs your leadership, your creativity, and your compassion. I have no doubt that you will continue to inspire and empower those around you, and that you will play a pivotal role in shaping a brighter tomorrow for all.
Happy International Women’s Day, to The Gambia.
The writer is a BL candidate at the Gambia Law School. She is driven by her affinity to the legal profession and relies on Precedents and Acts of the National Assembly to educate the public on bits and pieces of the application of the Laws of the Gambia and Ethics of the legal profession. These write-ups are for educational purposes only and not to serve as a substitute for Legal Advice. Email : [email protected]